Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Savage Harvest (Saturn's Core) Blu-ray Review

Collapse
X
Collapse
  •  
    Ian Jane
    Administrator

  • Savage Harvest (Saturn's Core) Blu-ray Review

    Click image for larger version

Name:	Savage-Harvest-Blu-ray-Review-cover.jpg
Views:	2223
Size:	36.5 KB
ID:	385694

    Released by: Saturn's Core
    Released on: December 28th, 2021.
    Director: Eric Stanze
    Cast: Lisa Morrison, Ramona Midgett, D.J. Vivona, William Clifton, Rebecca Kennebeck, Tommy Biondo
    Year: 1994
    Purchase From Amazon

    Savage Harvest - Movie Review:

    While Eric Stanze would definitely make better movies than this debut feature from 1994, Savage Harvest is probably the indie director's most accessible film in that it is simply a straight out horror film in the tradition of movies like The Evil Dead and Night Of The Demons - two films from which it borrows fairly heavily. His later films would get more unique and more interesting, but also more unusual, often times employing less traditional methods and even approaching surrealism at times. Savage Harvest, however, just goes for it.

    Starting off as many horror movies are apt to begin, we're introduced to a group of teenagers heading into the woods where they intend to shack up for the weekend at a cabin, just to get away from it all. As the story progresses, the teens (and in turn the audience) learn of a Cherokee Indian who used to roam the area practicing black magic who was eventually killed by his own tribe - but not before he was able to infuse some stones with a little bit of his own personal evil!

    As luck would have it, a recent flood in the area has unearthed one of those very same stones from its long dormant resting place, and what our intrepid teenage party goers are soon to learn is that if you touch it, you'll become possessed of the ancient evil that haunted the grounds so long ago. Of course, one thing leads to another and before you know it, people are getting possessed left, right and center. Once that happens, it's only a matter of time before the demonic hosts are feasting on the innards of the living.

    When you think 'shot on video horror film' your mind usually conjures up images of amateurish productions filled with horrible acting and really terrible, cheap, Halloween costume effects and masks. Stanze manages to avoid most of those pitfalls with this effort and while there are a couple of moments where the dialogue fails or a particular set piece isn't perfect, for the most part the movie really benefits from some capable performances and very good make up work.

    None of that matters, however, if the pacing is bad or the story doesn't work but thankfully those bases are covered as well. Yes, the plot is derivative and the influences are very obvious here but, that doesn't mean that the movie doesn't move along at a fairly quick pace or provide a few genuinely atmospheric moments of dread. Once some of the characters become possessed the movie shifts into high gear and the devil-tongued minions of Hell that run rampant in the woods become the real stars of the show. The first twenty or thirty minutes aren't necessarily movie history in the making, but they set up the plot just fine and blaze a trail for the carnage to come.

    If the movie has one fatal flaw it's that the ending feels really rushed and in terms of tying up the story, it doesn't do the best job of wrapping it all up as nicely as it could have. There is a twist and a lot of gore, it certainly could have been a lot worse, but on the other hand it also could have been stronger. Also, in terms of the visuals, the lighting is weak in a few spots which results in a rather muddy looking image that the creative cinematography can't fix. That's the worst of it though - Savage Harvest is a fun low budget movie that makes the most of its locations and limited budget. Despite its flaws, it's definitely entertaining and it also benefits from some inventive camera work. Bonus points for a guy in a Motley Crue Dr. Feelgood t-shirt.

    Savage Harvest - Blu-ray Review:

    Saturn's Core brings Savage Harvest to region free Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taking up 21.2GBS of space on the 25GB disc and framed at 1.33.1, the movie's original aspect ratio. This transfer doesn't, and shouldn't, make this low budget SOV oddity look like anything like a low budget SOV oddity, but that's a good thing. Detail is definitely better than past DVD editions and colors are a bit stronger here as well, but it's the compression that really helps elevate this over the previous standard definition offerings. The stronger bit rate makes for a much better viewing experience.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, available with optional English subtitles, sounds fine in both cuts. Levels are balanced well enough and there isn't much in the way of hiss or distortion to complain about. Again, the limitations of the source material do factor into the equation here, but overall, given the film's roots, the audio is decent.

    New to this release, as far as extras go, is a great featurette called A Quarter Century Since the Harvest. This is a 2021 retrospective documentary that runs for forty minutes and documents a screening of the movie that took place at the Mahoning Drive-In in the ridiculously quaint looking town of Lehighton, Pennsylvania during the 2021 edition of VHS-Fest. Directed by Jason Christ, this piece features interviews with Stanze, VHS-Fest programmer Ross Snyder and Jason Christ (the writer/director of the equally good Savage Harvest 2: October Blood) and his mighty beard. The featurette covers how Stanze was trying to get into filmmaking from a professional angle rather than just doing stuff for fun with friends, his inexperience at the time and his attempts to mimic what he had seen before, the influence of Evil Dead, the importance of the Alternative Cinema magazine to SOV filmmakers of the day, what helped elevate Savage Harvest over a lot of other SOV horror pictures made in the same era, what it was like shooting the movie with very little experience, Stanze's disappointment with how the movie turned out and how his thoughts on it have evolved over the years, how the movie continues built a cult audience over the years, how much fun VHS-Fest is and its cultural importance despite the horrible weather in the 2021 edition (look for an appearance from none other than Asbestos Felt at one point!), what the SOV movie scene was like in the mid-nineties, how filmmaking has become so accessible as technology has evolved since Savage Harvest was made, how the film was received at the VHS-Fest screening and lots more. This featurette also has a cool pre-screening interview with Stanze that goes over the making of the film. This is really well done and absolutely worth watching, it's both informative and entertaining and, if nothing else, it'll make you want to go to VHS-Fest!

    Two archival commentary tracks are on this new special edition Blu-ray release. The first track was recorded for the original 2002 DVD release of the movie and it features director Eric Stanze and producer DJ Vivona on the microphone. They cover a lot of ground on this talk, discussing some interesting aspects of working under such low budget conditions, how certain effects were achieved, and about shooting on location and some of the difficulties that brings along with it. The second track is with associate producer Jessica Wyman and actors Ramona Midgett and Rebecca Kennebeck from 2005 and it covers a lot of similar ground in that it goes over a lot of the details of the production, noting what it was like on set, discussing some of the effects work, the characters that appear in the film, how everyone got along during the shoot, problems that arose and lots more.

    Also included on the disc is Hell or High Water: The Making of Savage Harvest, an archival 1994 making of documentary. The most interesting aspect of this segment is seeing how some of the special effects were rigged up for the movie, most notably the tongue demon guy. There's some location footage, plenty of behind the scenes bits and pieces, and some clips of the cast and crew in a more candid environment than we see in the feature. A few interviews with the main cast members and a few of the crew members as well are also tucked away in here and while it won't change your life, it gives us a pretty decent look at the making of the movie as it was happening, rather than in hindsight (as the commentary tracks do).

    Rounding out the extra features are a substantial still gallery of behind the scenes pictures, five separate music videos directed by Eric Stanze between 1994 and 2000, two trailers for the feature and bonus trailers for other Eric Stanze/Wicked Pixel Cinema productions such as Ice from the Sun, Scrapbook, Savage Harvest 2: October Blood, Deadwood Park, Ratline and In Memory Of.

    Savage Harvest - The Final Word:

    Savage Harvest wears its influences on its sleeve but it remains a viciously entertaining micro-budget picture that offers loads of gory entertainment and nineties SOV nostalgia at the same time. The Blu-ray release from Saturn's Core presents the film looking as good as it realistically can and with a nice selection of extra features old and new. This is definitely worth checking out.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Savage Harvest Blu-ray screen caps!





























      Posting comments is disabled.

    Latest Articles

    Collapse

    • The Return Of Captain Invincible (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      Administrator
      by Ian Jane


      Released by: Severin Films
      Released on: July 26th, 2022.
      Director: Philippe Mora
      Cast: Alan Arkin, Christopher Lee, Kate Fitzpatrick, Bill Hunter, Michael Pate
      Year: 1983
      Purchase From Amazon

      The Return Of Captain Invincible – Movie Review:

      A black and white prologue lets us know what a big deal the Superman-esque super hero named Captain Invincible (Alan Arkin) was back in the thirties and forties. We see news reels showing off
      ...
      06-29-2022, 05:57 PM
    • The Necro Files (Visual Vengeance) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      Administrator
      by Ian Jane


      Released by: Visual Vengeance
      Released on: July 19th, 2022.
      Director: Matt Jaissle
      Cast: Steve Sheppard, Gary Browning, Christian Curmudgeon, Jason McGee
      Year: 1997
      Purchase From Amazon

      The Necro Files – Movie Review:

      When Matt Jaissle’s 1997 epic, The Necro Files, opens, a couple of cops - Detective Martin Manners (Steve Sheppard) and Detective Orville Sloane (Gary Browning) – are trying to stop a vicious rapist/serial killer
      ...
      06-29-2022, 02:35 PM
    • Horror High / Stanley (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      Administrator
      by Ian Jane


      Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
      Released on: May 27th, 2022.
      Director: Larry N. Stouffer/ William Grefé
      Cast: Pat Cardi, Austin Stoker, Rosie Holotik, Chris Robinson, Alex Rocco, Steve Alaimo, Susan Carroll
      Year: 1973/1972
      Purchase From Amazon

      Horror High / Stanley – Movie Review:

      Vinegar Syndrome’s Drive-In Collection makes a long overdue return with this special edition double feature Blu-ray release of Crown International regional
      ...
      06-27-2022, 05:05 PM
    • Red Lips (Saturn’s Core) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      Administrator
      by Ian Jane


      Released by: Saturn’s Core
      Released on: June 28th, 2022.
      Director: Donald Farmer
      Cast: Ghetty Chasun, Michelle Bauer, Danny Fendley, Mandy Leigh
      Year: 1995
      Purchase From Amazon

      Red Lips – Movie Review:

      Somewhere, two 90s Goth gals are making out. They get baked and make out some more, it's pretty graphic but not quite hardcore. The Gothiest of the two, wearing a choker, then bites the other, her victim’s blood turning her lips
      ...
      06-27-2022, 04:46 PM
    • Escape The Field (Lionsgate) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      Administrator
      by Ian Jane


      Released by: Lionsgate
      Released on: June 21st, 2022.
      Director: Emerson Moore
      Cast: Shane West, Theo Rossie, Jordan Claire Robbins, Tahirah Sharif, Elan Juatco
      Year: 2022
      Purchase From Amazon

      Escape The Field – Movie Review:

      Directed by Emerson Moore, who co-wrote with Sean Wathen and Joshua Dobkin, 2022's Escape The Field not surprisingly takes place... in a field. A corn field, to be specific. Here a woman named Sam (Jordan Claire
      ...
      06-22-2022, 05:26 PM
    • The Brain From Planet Arous (The Film Detective) Blu-ray Review
      Ian Jane
      Administrator
      by Ian Jane


      Released by: The Film Detective
      Released on: June 21st, 2022.
      Director: Nathan Juran
      Cast: John Agar, Joyce Meadows, Thomas Browne Henry, Robert Fuller
      Year: 1957
      Purchase From Amazon

      The Brain From Planet Arous – Movie Review:

      Directed by Nathan Juran and released in 1957, The Brain From Planet Arous tells us what happens when a giant floating brain from outer space decides it wants to take over our planet. After it initially
      ...
      06-20-2022, 02:11 PM
    Working...
    X